At least 21 killed as ISIS-linked militants rampage through Philippines city

At least 21 killed as ISIS-linked militants rampage through Philippines city
Thu May 25, 2017 10:36:40

Militants linked to ISIS swept through a southern Philippine city, beheading a police chief, burning buildings, seizing a Roman Catholic priest and his worshippers and raising the black flag of ISIS, regional authorities have said.

(theguardian) -- President Rodrigo Duterte had declared martial law across the southern third of the country – where Marawi city is located – and warned on Wednesday that he may expand it nationwide.

At least 21 people were killed in the fighting, officials said.

As details of the attack in Marawi emerged, fears mounted that the largest Roman Catholic state in Asia could join a growing list of countries grappling with the spread of influence from ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

 The violence erupted on Tuesday after the army raided the hideout of Isnilon Hapilon, a commander of the Abu Sayyaf militant group that has pledged allegiance to ISIS. He is on Washington’s list of most-wanted terrorists with a $5m (£3.9m) reward for information leading to his capture.

The militants called for reinforcements and about 100 gunmen entered Marawi, a mostly Muslim city of 200,000 people on the southern island of Mindanao, according to the defence secretary, Delfin Lorenzana said.

“We are in a state of emergency,” Duterte said on Wednesday after he cut short a trip to Moscow and flew back to Manila, the Philippine capital. “I have a serious problem in Mindanao and the ISIS footprints are everywhere.”

He declared martial law for 60 days in Mindanao, home to 22 million people, and vowed to be “harsh”.